Malcolm Roughead: Paisley's incredible journey is just beginning

While it is disappointing that Paisley has not been named the 2021 UK City of Culture, there is still much to be positive about.

The bid has been an incredible experience for the town, highlighting its fantastic cultural offering, and bringing together its community.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the people who have worked tirelessly on the bid over the last two years. Team Paisley is a wonderful array of individuals, businesses and community members, united by a desire to transform the future of this historic town. Through their hard work and dedication this group have done themselves, Paisley and Scotland very proud.

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“I’d imagine, like myself and many others across Scotland, the team are feeling slightly downhearted by the decision. However, it’s important to remember that the bid was only ever part of a wider plan to use culture and heritage to develop the area.

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Through the bid, we have seen Paisley’s reputation transformed and the rest of Scotland, the UK and the world are turning round to take notice of its outstanding tourism offering.

Paisley is a town close to my own heart. My mother-in-law’s family originated from there and her grandmother worked as a milliner, a key part of the town’s textile heritage. Also, the late, great Gerry Rafferty is one of my favourite artists. The saxophone solo on Baker Street is exceptional and hearing it reminds me of the wonderful music the area has produced over the years.

However, this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the town’s cultural output.

Paisley offers a remarkable range of cultural events and the bid has helped establish the town as a key destination on Scotland’s events map. Supported this year by EventScotland, the Spree and Sma’ Shot/Weave Festival will continue to grow and we can look forward to top events like the British Pipe Band Championships and The Royal National Mòd. Through these events, Paisley can continue to build its reputation across the globe and play a key role in positioning Scotland as the perfect stage.

The bid has inspired the town’s creative and cultural communities, with the diversity and strength of Paisley’s grassroots cultural scene showcased superbly over the last two years.

This will have a lasting legacy through Renfrewshire’s £1 million culture, heritage and events fund and we will see national organisations and artists of international standing come to Paisley to work with local groups and artists to enhance the cultural sector of the town.

Inspiring more than 34,000 people to come together and work to build a better Paisley, the bid for UK City of Culture 2021 has been an incredible journey for Scotland’s biggest town, full of energy, hard work and ScotSpirit!

The area’s raised profile has given it a bigger stage than ever before to promote itself to the world and build a new visitor economy. This will cause a ripple effect, touching the industry and community in the area, creating employment and economic growth.

VisitScotland works closely with communities and businesses to showcase the rich assets, hidden gems and local stories in every part of Scotland and we are very excited to working with Team Paisley to build on all the fantastic achievements of the last two years.

The competition may be over, but for this special wee place in Renfrewshire, the journey has just begun.

Malcolm Roughead is the chief executive of VisitScotland